|Eagles vs. Washington Redskins|
|Sun., Oct. 3, 4:15 PM, FOX, Lincoln Financial Field|
Well, Eagles fans won't have to wait too long for the most anticipated game of the season. In a game that should make the first three games seem like a sort of pre-season, the Eagles will welcome in the division rival Washington Redskins and their new quarterback. For the second straight year, the fans will witness the return of an iconic player in another uniform.
So the first question to answer will be: How do the Eagles faithful welcome the return of Donovan McNabb?
McNabb leads the Washington Redskins into what is a very familiar scene for both he and his burgundy-clad teammates. However, McNabb will be coming out of the visitors' locker room and will be trying to send the near 70,000 fans in attendance home in disappointment.
Some of McNabb's most magical moments have taken place at Lincoln Financial Field including "4th-and-26." It will be interesting to see if there are an increased amount of Redskins jerseys in the stands much like when Brian Dawkins returned to Philadelphia as a member of the Denver Broncos late last season. It wouldn't be surprising to see if McNabb "accidentally" head over to the Eagles sideline at some point.
McNabb will likely look over, however, and miss the weapons he had in his final year with the team. The Redskins offensive line is long overdue for an overhaul and it's likely his blindside protector will be first-round draft choice Trent Williams, who is certainly not an All-Pro like Jason Peters. The backfield in Philadelphia is young and vibrant with LeSean McCoy, Mike Bell and Leonard Weaver. In Washington, it's big names like Clinton Portis, Larry Johnson and Willie Parker but it remains to be seen whether they can still be productive.
At wide receiver, McNabb has some young targets in Devin Thomas and Malcolm Kelly as well as the savvy vet Santana Moss. But Thomas and Kelly certainly have not been as productive as DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Although, McNabb does have a security blanket in tight end Chris Cooley.
Of course, McNabb has the backing of Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, who will look to make the most of McNabb's mobility and strong arm.
McNabb will also have the support of a top-10 defense, but even that is in transition. New coordinator Jim Haslett is switching the Redskins from a 4-3 base to a 3-4. Will Albert Haynesworth anchor the defensive line? Haynesworth has expressed discontent with the change in defense, so it's uknown whether he'll still be on the Washington come the regular season.
Defensive end/linebacker Brian Orakpo had an outstanding rookie season with a team-best 11.0 sacks and he will be the focal point of the new 3-4 scheme from a pass rush perspective. The question is how will longtime middle linebacker London Fletcher fare in the new scheme? The secondary has talent with cornerbacks DeAngelo Hall and Carlos Rogers, but need a cover safety to complement LaRon Landry.
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 6:00 p.m., July 1